A Slightly Religious White Paper on Radical Life Extension

Big Religion shares many aspects with Big Business and Big Government, not least of which being that after a certain point the output of functionaries in these three groups, cogs in the middle tiers of the machinery, starts to become indistinguishable. So a white paper is a white paper is a white paper, its origin and intended audience only becoming clear by way of the preface and the summary. Thus the article below on the prospects for radical life extension looks much the same as any one of a number of others from various sources in recent years, and you'd have to read it all to note that it hails from one the more traditionally religious cloisters of the practicing civic religion in the US. It's a complex business when religion goes secular at the edges, or the other way around: in both cases its rather like the snail left the shell, but no-one involved really cares all that much, as dusting the shell is what keeps them busy.

In any case, I think that the article is worth reading, and is a mark of progress. The notion that radical life extension is possible and plausible continues to spread, and over the long term of decades it is that spread of ideas and supporters that is the only reliable way to boost the odds of rejuvenation therapies arriving soon enough to make a large difference to you and I personally as we struggle with old age. In the short term tactics matter, such as the victories of the SENS Research Foundation, the conferences, the noted hierarchs of the research community putting their names to rejuvenation research. But in the long term strategy matters, and strategy is really all about money, and money is really all about the number of people who agree with your goals.

The first step on the road of agreeing with the goal of greatly extending the healthy human life span, and along the way eliminating the disease, frailty, and suffering of aging, is open discussion. The more of that taking place the better, and there remain far too many places and communities in which this topic rarely if ever arises. Growth comes from new supporters, and new supporters result from greater consideration of the science and possibilities of longevity.

To Count Our Days: The Scientific and Ethical Dimensions of Radical Life Extension

The prospect of dying has always fascinated, haunted and, ultimately, defined human beings. From the beginnings of civilization, people have contemplated their own mortality - and considered the possibility of immortality. Indeed, many of humanity's oldest and best-known stories, from the Sumerian tale of "Gilgamesh" to the Old Testament Book of Genesis to Homer's "Odyssey," feature mortality and immortality as prominent themes.

Until recently, however, the possibility of dramatically extending human life has been consigned to the realm of speculation or science fiction. Scientists' understanding of why people age - and how to stop aging - was not sophisticated enough to hold out hope that life could be extended much beyond traditional old age. But that may be changing.

Today, scientists at major universities and research institutions are talking about treatments that could extend average life spans by decades - or even longer. None of these medical prospects is yet a reality, and even the most optimistic researchers acknowledge that major breakthroughs could prove elusive. But for the first time in human history, some experts believe we may be at the threshold of a new aging paradigm, one that replaces the generally accepted limits of human life with more open-ended possibilities.

It's a fairly long piece, by the abbreviated modern standards of online publication, and manages to talk about the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence and medical nanotechnology in addition to the standard quick tour of drug development. That is a hopeful sign, I think, that these are now obligatory topics for any review of this nature.


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